Thursday, April 1, 2010

What is ventricular tachycardia?

What is ventricular tachycardia?

Ventricular tachycardia (VT or vtach) is a serious abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia). It can be life threatening.
It is a fast heart rhythm that originates in the lower chambers of the heart (ventricles).
There can be many causes of VT but it is most often seen in patients with existing heart disease.
Patients with coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathy can often have VT.

There are many other conditions such as long QT syndrome, short QT syndrome, Brugada syndrome and familiar adrenergic polymorphic VT that can be associated with VT. VT can also be idiopathic, meaning it happens for no reason at all.

VT is classified as sustained or non sustained. Non sustained VT is VT that terminates by itself.

This is less dangerous but requires attention. It can be triggered by electrolyte abnormalities, ischemia (lack of blood flow to the heart), abnormal electrical pathways in the heart, or it may happen for no reason.

Rarely, it can be triggered by the leads from an implantable defibrillator (ICD). (This is what happened to me)

Sustained VT is a medical emergency because it will often lead to death in a few minutes without intervention.

The most effective treatment for sustained VT is immediate defibrillation. (shock)

Below are some examples of VT as it appears on a heart monitor.

All of the these strips were my own heart when I was in the hospital.

16 beat run of VT

This is part of a 30 second episode I had.

My ICD tried to pace me out of VT twice but it wasn't successful and the event eventually stopped on its own.

If it had not stopped, I would have received a shock from my ICD.

This shows 3 episodes of non sustained VT which all happened within a few seconds of each other.

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